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Op/Ed

RealtyTrac’s breakout app could put a dent in competitors’ mobile user stats

With one creative feature, RealtyTrac’s new mobile app could get consumers’ attention when whipping out their phones to learn more about a listing from their car or on foot.

realtytrac-mobile app

Rather than offer another “me too” mobile app for real estate search, RealtyTrac has launched their mobile app with a new twist on search – just shoot a picture of any property with an iPhone or iPad, and instantly get all of the details about a listing, and refine the search at any time based on size, status, age, lender name, auction date, property type, and even bankruptcy status.

Using GPS, home shoppers can quickly find homes for sale, foreclosures, recently sold, and even off-market homes by standing in front of a home and snapping a shot instead of doing the song and dance of driving past a home for sale with a standard sign in the yard, and asking “where am I?” and having to pull up an app and search by address. This app nixes several steps in the process, and the “do everything faster” culture of today could respond warmly to reducing the friction.

In addition to listings, the app offers “detailed and pertinent real estate information for virtually any residential property including foreclosure status and details, estimated market value, property characteristics, property taxes, sales history, open loans, equity and much more,” the company states. Listings can be saved and shared, and the app offers alerts when any saved home changes status or when new properties meet their criteria.

“There is a growing demand for real estate data on the go. Industry-wide and particularly for our website where we have seen traffic to our mobile site nearly double in the last year,” said Jamie Moyle, CEO at RealtyTrac. “Our goal was to create a more engaging and empowering way for the mobile house hunter to find the perfect home or investment property. The property-identifying photo feature makes it easy for consumers and real estate investors to evaluate a property they are standing in front of without even typing in or knowing the address.”

Caveat emptor…

Our immediate concerns were regarding what RealtyTrac does with the photos, so as we await the company’s comment on the topic, we urge agents and consumers alike to move forward with caution, because it is currently unclear whether or not RealtyTrac stores the snapped photos on their servers or if it is a gimmick to read a GPS signal.

Further, it is unclear whether or not they claim any copyright or ownership over the photos shot through the app, and whether or not they are used anywhere besides on the user’s phone.

Update: RealtyTrac tells Realuoso, “No, we do not store [the pictures taken via the app] or use them in any way.”

How will it put a dent in competitors’ mobile user stats?

What RealtyTrac has working against them is twofold: first, not all content is free, and premium content in the app requires a paid subscription. Secondly, RealtyTrac isn’t synonymous with “real estate search” in consumers’ minds quite the same way Zillow and others are.

That said, if the app catches on as a hybrid between augmented reality (which it is not) and mobile search (which it is), and takes steps out of the process and makes searching homes easier, consumers will adopt the app during their search process. Rather than launch a lame version of competitors’ apps, they got creative, and with the proper marketing push, consumers could very easily make this their first stop when home shopping via mobile app.

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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